Sheffield Steel




Sheffield Steel

for Malcom

Even in the 70s Sheffield’s steel crucible 
forged only macho men. 
So, you witness protected your identity
behind long strides in black Doc Martens,
wiping dirty hands on brown overalls, 
hunching over roll ups in navy donkey jacket.
But weekends deployed gay spy-craft:
whispered Polari, 
keys coyly slung from belt loops, 
gold neck-chain’s glint, 
leading to stomach churning cottaging in gents,
palm prickling pick- ups in blind eye pubs, 
heart racing rendezvouses in suburban bedsits.
Hastily pulling back on your butchness
for the late bus home, 
drunken lads still saw beneath 
to the pansy, queer, fairy 
crouching inside, and dealt with you.

Then the flit to London, in Soho’s sanctuary
released inner camp gene genie,
with nature Kohled eyes, mocha skin, lean body 
you swanked in tight white tops and tight white jeans,
watering mouths following your Marilyn wiggle
down Old Compton Street.
And shaking your booty in ‘Bang’, * 
added rock star notches to your bed post. 
Kept your tongue Sheffield steel sharpened 
as you deposed killer Queens.
Outside the Soho ghetto still set upon on underground, 
but took your beating with ‘Whatever’ bravado.
And weekends in 6-inch pink diamante stilettos, 
scarlet mini dress, Blondie wig,
you waved your purple feather Boa in society’s face, 
sprinting across the concourse of Victoria Station,
en route to find heaven in ‘Heaven’